Derek Carr's Injury Will Showcase Reggie McKenzie's Talents
Elias Trejo – Dec 28, 2016
Reggie McKenzie has done a great job of turning the Raiders into a contender over the last couple of years. His first two draft picks of 2014 are a big reason for the Raiders turn around and have been the focal point of this season. Khalil Mack and Derek Carr are being talked about more than any other players on the Raiders team. Mack is in the Defensive Player of the Year conversations while Carr is being talked about as an MVP Candidate. However, this team goes beyond these two young superstars and the rest of the season will showcase that talent with Carr being out for the season.
The Oakland Raiders will start a game without Carr for the first time this season. Carr has been the talk of the league after breaking his fibula against the Indianapolis Colts. After leading the Raiders to their first playoff berth in over a decade, the quarterback is now out for the season. Up to this point, Carr and only a handful of quarterbacks might be playing at the level that he was before his injury.
So what does this mean for the Oakland Raiders? It means McKenzie has an opportunity to showcase the rest of his roster this weekend against the Denver Broncos and it all starts with the undrafted underdog, Matt McGloin. McGloin is one of McKenzie's undrafted gems that he has found over the years. There are many undrafted free agents that are making an impact on the Raiders roster this season.
Seth Roberts, Jalen Richard, Darius Latham, Marquette King, Johnny Holton, Antonio Hamilton, James Cowser, Denver Kirkland, Tyrell Adams, Denico Autry, Jamize Olawale, Andre Holmes and Donald Penn make up the bulk of current Raiders that weren’t drafted. Most of these players were found by McKenzie and his scouting department and have made an impact. These guys have been kept on the roster for a reason, which should give you confidence in McGloin’s ability.
McGloin would have been cut by now or replaced on the depth chart by other quarterbacks who were drafted by the Raiders or signed by the team. Instead, Oakland brass chose to tender him with a 2nd round tender this offseason. McGloin is actually getting paid more money than Carr this season because of that second round tender, according to OverTheCap.com. They obviously think he is worth the money and his time is now to prove them right and to prove that Reggie and company know what they are doing.
Perhaps it will be the defense that will face the most pressure as more will be needed from them moving forward. Oakland’s offense should be fine because it is loaded with talent, but you should see a drop off in points without Carr. The defense is full of players that were free agency acquisitions by McKenzie. Bruce Irvin, Reggie Nelson, Dan Williams, David Amerson, Sean Smith, Malcolm Smith, and Perry Riley were all veterans brought in over the last two years where McKenzie made it rain in free agency. They make up the majority of the starting defense.
Mixed in with all of these undrafted players and free agents are McKenzie’s draft picks. Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington, Mario Edwards Jr, Justin Ellis, Jihad Ward, Clive Walford, Gabe Jackson and Menelik Watson. These guys are the foundation of this team. Their contributions to the team are great, but their cost is not. Mack is a bargain with a cap hit of just under $6 million. Cooper’s production shows he is a top wide receiver in the league, but even though he is the highest paid draft pick on the Raiders roster, he isn’t anywhere near the top paid wide receivers in the league.
When your draft picks are out producing their rookie contracts you are doing something right. 24 players on the Raiders roster have a cap number of under 1 million dollars and 12 of them have started at least one game this season. Charley Casserly said on NFL Network that the Raiders are as good as you can be in the league today. With free agency and the salary cap, things are a little bit harder today than they were back in the day but Reggie has done a great job of building this team.
The Carr injury was devastating but when you start looking around this roster and looking at the strength of this roster, you start saying to yourself, “Okay this team has a chance to compete.” Building this roster took a lot of time and they are built to win beyond just the first guy on the depth chart. A win against the Broncos this next Sunday would show this team was built the right way. It would give the team confidence knowing they can still win games and it would send a message to the rest of the NFL. It would also solidify McKenzie as Executive of the Year in my eyes.
Not only should the Raiders stay competitive after the Carr injury, but they are also in great cap shape heading into the 2017 season. The Raiders are guaranteed at least 2 more games this year and based on what they have done over the last 15 games, there is no question that McKenzie deserves Executive of the Year for the 2016 season.
When you have some of the best draft picks over the last three years, and have some of the best free agent signings along with some high producing undrafted talents on your roster, you are doing something right. Oakland has one of the best records in the league and had the most players selected to the Pro Bowl. This team is loaded with talent beyond Carr and you’re about to see it in action.
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Who should the Raiders take with the 24th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft
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|Zach Cunningham - LB - Vanderbilt|
|Kevin King - CB - Washington|
|Tre'Davious White - CB - LSU|
|Chidobe Awuzie - CB - Colorado|